One shouldn't diss or disparage the whole science of archeology and archeological interpretation. I mean, take all the excavations in the middle east. You maybe put a date, within limits, on objects uncovered, but what do you "know" with certainty; and these findings have no "provenance". And yet there are books and books and scholarship interpreting history based on these findings.I don't think anyone's saying that. The conversation is always fun, but we shouldn't confuse possible with plausible. Many things are possible. For example it's possible that JFK was killed by the mafia, Fidel Castro, Big Foot and Amelia Earhart acting as a hit squad, but it's extremely implausible and really beggar's belief.
In this case the facts are these. Jim Bowie died at the Alamo. Jim Bowie is famous because a knife of unspecified appearance had his name attached. Them's the facts...
There are various knives about including the Searles, Forrest and now apparently "Sea of Mud" (I won't dignify that "Musso" bowie by suggesting it's even in the same category as those) which various proponents would like to think are THE bowie knife. Some are more plausible candidates than others but none of them are provably anything other than a knife. In this case the "Sea of Mud" bowie's provenance is so tenuous that we really know nothing more about it than it has a particular pattern and that it was found in a location where the Mexican Army once camped. That's ALL we KNOW.
All we do know is that the knife that made Bowie famous, or the knife that bowie made famous at the sandbar fight has nothing to do with what people believe a bowie knife is today.
The Clift bowie is the original and it is likely that the followup to that knife is probably just a fancier knife of the same or similar style as the clift, such as the folwar or shively bowie.
One shouldn't diss or disparage the whole science of archeology and archeological interpretation. I mean, take all the excavations in the middle east. You maybe put a date, within limits, on objects uncovered, but what do you "know" with certainty; and these findings have no "provenance". And yet there are books and books and scholarship interpreting history based on these findings.
And what is this obsession with identifying "THE bowie knife". Anyone with any lick of sense knows this is near on unlikely. But we do know, with a high degree of certainty, and almost without exception, men in 1836 Texas armed themselves with knives and many of those knives were large, double edged clip point blades with cross-guards.
The Musso knife does not exist in isolation. There are at least three other knives of that same pattern: the Sweet, the Robinson, and the Neil. I do not dismiss their authenticity and look forward to further study.
Completely agree with this part.
That's where we have to part ways. You could be right. I don't see any actual evidence of that though. That's not an attack on you or your veracity but rather a healthy skepticism of anything that Rezin Bowie might have said (nevermind what his grand daughter said he said.) One of those one (Rezin) is a very unreliable witness and the other is hearsay, neither would be admittable in court.
The Blade story was one artcle‘s worth of info, turned into three. Pure conjecture designed as filler to go between the ads. It helped decide to not renew my subscription.
At the time no one cared about the knife. The story was that a few guys staged an illegal duel. That it went wrong and a few of them ended up dead; and that a big guy named Bowie went ape shit when attacked and butchered his attackers with a knife. And, soon everyone wanted a knife that they could use to defend themselves, just like Bowie.
The same thing happens in currents times. A crime happens, a victim fights off an attacker with a knife, and people want to carry knives for self defense. Rarely do these stories provide details on the knife, not today and certainly not 200 years ago. What ever knife Jim Bowie carried was immaterial, what mattered was that it was a large knife and that it was used to kill. Just like every gun in the news is reported as an assault rifle, the tool is just an inannimate object, it is the use that is sensational.
The Bowies likely owned several knives. They obviously didn’t care much about sandbar knife; it certainly wasn’t displayed at home or admired by the family. We don’t even know if Jim could have identified the knife himself; it was just a handy knife that he had borrowed from his brother. Nor were there any notable knife duels or fights at the Alamo. We don’t even know if Bowie carried a knife there. Just about everything we have been told about the knife is speculative fantasy. The knife doesn’t matter. Jim Bowie would have done the same thing with just about any knife you care to imagine in his hands.
"Maybe someday, the knife will show up. Imagine that"... And be declared a fake.
The simple truth is no one back in the 19th century cared about or even knew about "provenance". So can anything EVER be presented that can conclusively prove that any particular knife belonged to James Bowie?
We have a first hand account of a friend of Bowie, while he was in Texas; and we have a second hand account by the nephew of a friend of Bowie, while he was in Texas. The nephew was in his late 30's when his uncle passed away, so heard his uncle's stories, and read his accounts, when his uncle was still middle age.
Yet their telling is dismissed.
Norm Flayderman wrote an outstanding book: The Bowie Knife: Unsheathing an American Legend.
Has anyone been able to document a James Black knife?
...This is a very early, 1830’s Bowie, the Gravely & Wreaks Bowie. But this was made in England...
...But, as to James Black, Flayderman states that no knife, no nothing has ever been found that can be positively attributed to James Black. And, if James Black acted the way Flayderman said he did, I think James Black was a false fame fraudster...Flayderman stated that James Black, only surfaced in his old age, then claimed that he was James Bowie’s cutler. And in the house he was being taken care of, if he noticed someone around the corner, he would go into some moaning routine, crying “Oh, I have forgotten the secret of steel!”, or something similar.
My opinion is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof...
It was one of the worst attempts at a historical knife article I have ever read. And then they had to turn it into a multi issue story about nothing but fantasy conjuring.The Blade story was one artcle‘s worth of info, turned into three. Pure conjecture designed as filler to go between the ads. It helped decide to not renew my subscription.